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Latest scams

Latest scams

Scammers are quick to adapt – and we’re constantly uncovering new scams.

If you’ve received an unexpected call that you’re not sure is from us, end the call and phone us back from a different phone, or call a friend to see if the scammers are hanging onto the line.

Latest scams

Cost of living scams

Fraudsters will try to take advantage of the cost of living crisis and might get in contact about a range of issues affecting us all. They might try to direct you to fake loan websites or offers, or pretend to represent energy companies or retailers offering discounts.

The government has recently announced the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS), and scammers are taking advantage of it to trick people into giving out personal and bank details. As part of the scheme, every household will get £400 in energy bills discounts this winter. Your energy provider will automatically apply the discount to your bills, or send you vouchers if you have a prepayment meter – you don’t need to do anything.

Scammers might call, email, or send you a text message claiming to be from the government or your energy company. They’ll ask you to confirm details to receive your EBSS discount, but this is a scam. The government and your energy company won’t need to contact you about the discount.

The gov.uk website has more information on the EBSS and other support they’re offering, so you can find out what to expect.

If someone contacts you about the EBSS, or any energy refund or deal, don't click on any links, fill in any forms or give out any personal information. Genuine companies will understand if you want to look into what they’re saying. When calling any company, always use a number you can find on their website.

When looking for retail offers and discounts, be wary of any that seem too good to be true. Use reputable discount websites, and type the address in rather than using a search engine – or go directly to the retailer.

Scammers could set up fake loan websites. The interest rate may seem low, but they'll say you need to pay an admin fee before they can release the money – this will be a scam. Always make sure a company offering loans is fully regulated by checking the FCA website. If you're struggling financially, talk to your bank and see what support they can offer.

Remember – if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Scammers are coming up with new ways to trick people during this sad time. Please remember that money, passports and other things that mention ‘Her Majesty’s Government’ can still be used and don’t need to be replaced – anyone saying they do could be a scammer. 

Be wary of anyone selling commemorative stamps, coins or other royal memorabilia, and look out for fake offers charging a fee for something that’s actually free, like attending a free event or signing a public book of remembrance.

WhatsApp friends and family impersonation scam

Scammers send messages where they impersonate your family members or friends. They’ll give a reason why they’re using a different number, like saying they’ve lost their phone, then mention a reason they need money, such as an unpaid bill or a lost wallet. Never send a photo of the front and back of your card – this will allow someone to make purchases using your card or even access your online banking.

If you get a message from friends or family asking for money, give them a call on a number you trust and speak to them before you make any payments.

If you believe you’ve been contacted on WhatsApp by someone using a fraudulent number, please help WhatsApp close down these numbers by reporting it directly to them. You do this by tapping the three vertical dots at the top right of the screen in the chat, choose ‘More’ and then ‘Report’. Once you’ve done that, you can repeat those steps to block the number from contacting you again.

Social engineering and safe account scams

Scammers are experts at getting people to give out private information like their date of birth, bank account details and one-time passcodes, and at persuading people to move money out of their accounts.

When someone tries to scam you by email, it’s called ‘phishing’. Scam calls are known as ‘vishing’, and text messages as ‘smishing’. Scammers often combine different contact methods to create elaborate scams.

For example, scammers are sending text messages claiming to be from the NHS. They say you’ve had close contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID–19 and need to register for a test by clicking a link to enter your details. They may say you need to make a small payment.

Later, the scammer calls you and uses details they got from the text message scam to convince you they’re genuine. They might confirm your name and address to make you think they know you, or worry you by saying they’re your bank and can see you’ve made a small payment as part of a scam. They gain your trust so they can trick you into falling for a bigger scam.

Scammers often pretend they’re from the bank, police, or other authorities, and describe an urgent situation to pressure you into paying them money. One tactic they use is to say your money is at risk and you need to move it to a ‘safe account’, or take cash out and give it to them for safe keeping.

Be wary of anyone asking you to do this – they could be a criminal. If you feel like someone is trying to scare you into giving them information or moving your money, stop communication with them and contact your bank on a number you trust.

Humanitarian scams

Fraudsters often use global events or tragedies as an opportunity to prey on your compassion and willingness to help others in need. They may use the situation in Ukraine as a cover story to get you to divulge personal details, move money out of your account, or ask for donations to fake relief efforts. Please be careful and check you’re donating to an accredited, legitimate charity.

Impersonation scams

Scammers are sending texts that appear to be from ‘Barclays’. If you receive a text with a one-time passcode you didn’t ask for, or about a payment you don’t recognise, it’s probably a scam.

Scammers impersonate us to get you to trust them. Then they try to convince you to hand over your details so they can access your account, or transfer your funds to a ‘safe account’.

Always double check the company’s name, as scammers often get it wrong – for example, they might say ‘Curry’s’ instead of ‘Currys’ or ‘AIRBNB’ instead of ‘Airbnb’.

Don’t call any numbers, select any links or open attachments in messages you don’t recognise or aren’t expecting. We’ll never ask you to transfer your money to a ‘safe account’ – no legitimate company will.

Cryptocurrency

Everyone’s talking about cryptocurrency at the moment, but it doesn’t mean you should listen to anyone offering to invest your money in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, especially if they’re offering to open a wallet for you that you wouldn’t have access to.

Scammers are posing as sales staff to get you to buy into a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’. If you are looking to invest, it’s best to get the opinion of a qualified adviser and check the FCA website – don’t give out any details over the phone.

Take Five to protect yourself

We’re teaming up with UK Finance, who’ve launched their ‘Take Five to Stop Fraud’ campaign to help keep you safe from fraud and scams. Following these steps can help protect you and your money.

 1. Stop

Take a moment to stop and think before giving out your personal or payment details.

2. Challenge

Could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests you think seem suspicious – only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

3. Protect

If you believe you’ve been targeted by scammers, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at actionfraud.police.uk. If you’re in Scotland, please report it to Police Scotland directly by calling 101.

Get more tips at takefive-stopfraud.org.uk. 

What to do with a suspicious message 

If you get an email or text that claims to be from us but looks suspicious, please forward it, along with any attachments if possible, to [email protected].

You can also forward any suspicious emails to [email protected]. The National Cyber Security Centre will test the validity of the site and will remove it immediately if it’s a phishing scam.

More information 

Visit our fraud and scams page for tips on how to spot scams and protect your money.

Check out our article on fraud and scams that explains how anyone could be vulnerable to scammers.